We are facing a Parkinson’s epidemic?
Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative condition in which neurons and dopamine-producing cells in your brain begin to die. Symptoms tend to develop slowly and progress over time. As the disease progresses even simple movements become difficult.
Symptoms include; tremors, slow movements, rigid limbs, shuffling gait, stooped posture, reduced ability to make facial expressions and inability to move.
In addition to significant physical disability, the condition may also trigger depression, speech impediments, personality changes and dementia.
Historically, Parkinson’s disease was rare. In 1855, for instance, just 22 people living in the United Kingdom died with Parkinson’s disease. Now Parkinson’s disease is a global concern.
In the US from 1990 to 2015, the number of people living with Parkinson’s doubled to more than 6.2 million and experts predict that by 2040 the number will reach 12 million. Parkinson’s affects as many as 7 million to 10 million adults worldwide, approximately 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's every year. Which means that the average older adult today has an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
Although incidence of the disease increases with age, an estimated 4 percent of those with Parkinson's are diagnosed before the age of 50. Men are 1.5 times more likely to get Parkinson's than women. There is no cure and treatment can be expensive. Medications can average from $2,500 a year, while therapeutic surgery may cost up to $100,000 per patient.
Over the past generation, Parkinson's disease has more than doubled world wide as a result of increasing numbers of older people. As population average age increase the prevalence of Parkinson’s will inevitably increase.
Industrialization might also be playing a part in the increasing rise in Parkinson’s risk.
For example, in China, which has experienced rapid industrial growth since 1990, the prevalence of Parkinson's disease more than doubled between 1990 and 2016, the largest increase worldwide.
Chemicals like pesticides play rols in Parkinson’s. For example, one in particular, paraquat, is strongly linked to the condition and is now banned in 32 countries (NOT in US).
Increasing rates of Parkinson’s disease are concerning, but what can we do?